Dead women erotica

OK, I am not a Gone Girl groupie and I wrote earlier about how this sensational bestseller has misogynist problems of its own. But when I saw this image from the upcoming movie based on the book, I still groaned.

gg

In art and fashion and cinema, dead or dying or tortured women are fetishised and their agony is sexualized. 1980s’ slasher movies of Hollywood or the titillating rape scenes from Bollywood are crude examples of the same. But you see that even mainstream portrayals of women in varying degrees of pain,agony, death, torture suffer from the fetish trope.

It is not surprising that David Fincher has come out with this hugely problematic image. After all, marketing campaign of his Hollywood crap version of Girl with Dragon Tattoo attracted widespread criticism when he chose to sexualise Lisbeth Salander- a rare character of a woman whose whole essence is against objectification of women. This article sums it up nicely.

I can’t understand why Hollywood rarely makes creepy movies with not-so-normal female characters well. Fuck Fincher and the whole mediocre old boys. I highly recommend Stoker, if you want to watch debauched- erotic-creepy-women-centric thriller.

stoker

It is disturbingly beautiful, eerie, deliciously pervy and doesn’t reduce its female characters to fetishised tropes. Hurrah. Not to mention absolute hunky bad boyness of Matthew Goode. This is a great Hollywood debut of Oldboy fame Park Chan Wook. He brings the uniquely Asian storytelling and cinematic style here with aplomb.

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Epic silly Evolutionary Bio-shit

OK, this is too funny to be true, but it is there in today’s TIMES LIFE and it is not there as a spoof, but as a serious answer to this world’s most important question:

‘Have you ever wondered why women spend hours trying to find the right outfit while men know what is that they exactly want, purchase it quickly and exit the store? ‘

Taaadaaa… the answer is:

‘ This difference in shopping styles dates back to pre-historic times when women spent their days gathering good quality food and men were hunters with a clear plan about how to catch their prey. Once it was killed, they’d straight return home. But women, when gathering, would be very careful about the right texture and smell of food to ensure safety and quality. This mirrors in women’s shopping pattern today.’

I swear on my handbook of ‘ FUCK EVOLUTIONARY BIOLOGY IN ITS PREHISTORIC ASS’ that I am not making this up, you can read it in today’s Times of India.

I guess advertisers, marketeers and the multi-billion dollar industry targeting women to buy multiple unnecessary things by comodifying women’s bodies and minds can fold up and retire. Starting with Times of India. Because hey- it is fucking prehistoric times, ok? Women can’t help but shop because it is fucking biology, ok? OK? OK?

Phew. Let me go back to my pre-historic pleasure of picking my nose while brutally killing my noisy neighbours on this lazy Sunday.

Miley Cyrus and Oooh Laa Laa

A change of image for a female star usually involves sex. If she wants to be seen as cool and edgy, she has to maintain a balance- be a sexual object but still look like she is in control on screen/ stage. Take last week’s Miley Cyrus’s controversial VMA 2013 performance that is blasting the Americans in a dizzy.

Our own Vidya Balan, for example, turned her image of ” sweet, traditional Indian woman ” to ” edgy, cool, sexually confident” in Dirty Picture. Balan was hailed as gutsy, bold, a new face of Indian woman not afraid of her sexuality. She suddenly went from behenji to edgy modern woman by.. by what?

There is no doubt that Balan is one of the best we have. But to call the movie and her character Silk as ‘female empowerment’?

balan

Silk is not sexually empowered, rather she plays on every sexist stereotype with gusto a la Rakhi Sawant. She uses her body in a way expected by ambitious women, and her character goes through no arc when she starts failing in her career. It is always her body that is on display for the movie’s deglammed male characters and male viewers. The fat hanging on her is simultaneously supposed to arouse and disgust at the same time. No amount of witty dialogue and bold gestures can actually erase the message of the film, perfectly articulated in the climax. Silk, a tragic figure lying dead in a red saree and Sindoor, we viewers mourning the essence of Indian womanhood that she missed: marriage!! This comes after enjoying 2 hours of unabashed sexual objectification cloaked in female aggression.

In similar but less shocking vein , Ishquiya also plays on the femme fatale trope and while far more subdued, Balan’s character impresses us with her manipulation of male characters using her sexuality, again in a very stereotypical manner.

I am all for sexual expression and being bold. But then it should be equally performed by men. When it comes to female stars, why don’t we determine coolness and edginess of the artist by performance and story arc? I know you will say, Kahani and yes, there is zero objectification, she is an active agent through and through. But the film had far less cultural impact/ popularity than Dirty Picture.

The point I am trying to make is not that of a critique of Balan, who I adore. And who does pushes the boundaries of what a female star is supposed to be without fear. Point is, how she instantly became ‘cool’ only when she started getting bold about her sexuality, even while the characters she played were totally dependent on men for survival and character growth.

An Irrfan Khan or a Ranbeer Kapoor or a Nasseruddin or an Amitabh do not need to use the tired old coin of ‘sexuality’ when changing image or climbing coolness ladders.

Coming back to former Hannah Montana fame Miley Cyrus’s MTV VMA performance that is being criticised and ridiculed all over American media. Hannah Montana was one of the popular girl characters even on Indian TVs. As someone closely associated with kids media, I am fascinated by her transition from ‘ america’s Disney sweetheart’ to ‘ america’s latest female child star gone wild’. Move over Lidsay Lohan and Amanda Baynes!!

There is the usual expected slut shaming- especially Cyrus’s twerking to Robin Thicke, who is 16 years older than her, and sings his famous song ‘blurred lines’ that is borderline rape apology. “How could this sweet girl do this? Every virginal girl has a slut hidden in her after all!! What would the kiddis think?” Nobody is saying anything about Thicke, of course, since he is a man and can not be a slut.

Miley’s offensive appropriation of black culture for shock value has been rightly criticised.

And last but not the least, the type of sexual objectification in the video has drawn widespread criticism from feminists. Her constantly stuck out tongue, giggling face, slightly out of control body language, choreography that positions her as a sexual object, stripping on stage, twerking at spectators etc. do not suggest any sexually empowering performance: but that of being an object for male eyes, symbolized by the older performer Thicke, who hardly looks at her even when she is performing vague sexually submissive poses with him.

Miley is no Balan or Lady Gaga, who manage to be sexual objects while maintaining agency and control. There is also difference in talent. Miley Cyrus’s performance is cringeworthy.. even more than Shahrukh Khan’s in Chennai Express. She comes across as desperate and wannabe. So it could just be the fact that she did something she couldn’t carry off and that is why she has attracted so much disgust.

But the fact remains that Female performers’ bodies are invariable parameters of judging them. Cool, behenji, modern, edgy, international, traditional and what not.

Disposable Women

I absolutely love this site . Addictive is the word.

It is also a handy search tool when you are obsessed about something thematic; and want to read/ watch only that theme. I stumbled upon this site years ago when I was obsessed with evil kids in literature and movies. ( I worked in kids’ entertainment, so I needed to do this once in a while to keep perspective.. hehehe)

Anyway, so I wanted to post this particular link forever. It is called a Disposable Woman trope.

Trope is defined simply as a common or overused theme or device.

When a concept becomes so overused that it becomes predictable in it’s structure, it can be called a trope. Tropes are sort of like popular stereotypes rolled into a definable plot device.

So a Gajar Ka Halwa wielding widow mum is a trope. An NRI returning home to find meaning in life and a wife is a trope. Raped sister is a trope.

(Remember the genius scene from Andaz Apna Apna where Aamir Khan lies about his Vidhwa Maa aur Andhi Behen?? Awwwww…. love love love love this movie. Beyond tropes!!)

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/DisposableWoman defines this particular trope of disposable woman as :

“A female character, typically the wife, sweetheart or occasionally mother of the protagonist, who is present in the story just so that she can be either kidnapped by the bad guys, thus becoming a Distressed Damsel, or find herself Stuffed into the Fridge, giving the protagonist a pretext for Revenge. In a series, she can be frighteningly easily forgotten or replaced once her value as a plot device has expired, if she has been previously developed at all.”

Interesting na?I am going to call Bollywood the land of disposable women.

Mothers’ Day #3: Spooky Mother Kid pairs in movies

Last night I couldn’t resist picking up the movie Babycall starring Noomi Rapace… ( Noomi is well known for playing Lisbeth Salander …Pls watch her in the original Swedish movies – there are 3 of them, yayyy- and not the total crap Girl With The Dragon Tatoo that Hollywood made. She is divine)

Anyway, this movie Baby call is predictable and so so. She is excellent though.

And that made me think of all those mother- kid pairs who feature in Horror/ thriller movies.

A mother and kid pair moves to a strange place. Male figure is usually missing/ gets killed off early in the movie. Kid starts to see strange things. Mother has to protect herself and the kid from that eerie presence. Or the live menace ( usually a violent husband/ lover). Or kid is dead and comes back. Or mother is dead and comes back.

Delicious formula for a touchingly thrilling movie.

So today I want to do a countdown of my favourite Mum-Kid pairs in horror/ thriller movies.

1. Shining

Scary talented kid + screetchy mum + dozens of dramebaaz ghosts & crazy dad= One of the best horror movies ever.

2. Dark Water

Only Japanese kids look that cute and only Japanese movies make a normal city apartment that scary. This movie makes you cry and want- to – shit – in- the- pants with fear at the same time.

3. Half light
I don’t know why this absolute gem of a movie is not popular. A grieving mother sees the spirit of her small son, but is not sure what he wants from her. Touching and gorgeously shot.

4. Panic Room
I am not a big fan of the movie but it is Jodie Foster kicking collective ass, and playing mama bear so who can resist?

5. Psycho

OK, I have huge problems with mama-blaming in this movie, that basically suggests overbearing mothers produce psychotic sons. But hell, it is still the best thriller ever made ( and this trailer narrated by Hitchcock himself is to die for).

6. The Others

Spooky house+ Nervous mum+ Cute kids: this movie still shocks you with its twist despite of dozens of copy cat versions.

7. Ju On

Japanese pair of blue spooky ghost kid with his blue horrific ghost mamma. Avoid the crappy HW remake and stick to the original scarefest.

8. We need To Talk About Kevin

Absolutely stunning movie about a mother who has mixed feelings about her sociopathic son. It is brilliant in its subtlety and I love the fact that the movie doesn’t blame the mother for the horrific act the son commits.

9. It’s Alive
A baby who kills and eats people, like from the time it gets out of the womb!! It is one of those movies that is so bad, so bad, so so so so bad… that it is good beyond words. I think pregnant women should avoid it though!!

10. Exorcist
The original scary kid movie that has been copied so many times that it is amazing you still want to look away when Regan turns her head 180 degrees!!

Ummmm… mothers and kids make a deadly pair for a horror/ thriller fan.

Lack of male figure is at the same time troubling and empowering I think.I want to see a movie in which a mother saves her kids even when her husband/ lover is very much alive.

Male nudity..

If you have ever been to Bhutan, you will see walls of homes dotted with decorative images of Penis with a squirt of semen.

We are so not used to seeing male nudity or male genitals depicted in public place in any way, that this image evokes either shock or nervous giggles in Indians.

The other day, a friend was telling us how she was looking for a nice artwork of a male nude and was finding it difficult to get one. Female nudes are of course the norm. Since women are objects “to be seen”, and men “see”, it is easier to see female nudity around us: art, advertisement, media, pornography.

Shiva Ling is perhaps the only mainstream example of depiction of male genitals in our culture and is present in all parts of India. But in modern times, it is always the female sexual organs that seem to be displayed to stand in for anything sexual or related to reproduction.

Why is it that male frontal or general nudity embarrasses us so? Why is it rarely associated with romance or artistic depictions of erotica?

I think it is because women are conditioned to not ‘see’ male body with desire And thus very few women would admit lust for a random male body. Also men who control what is seen and shown in the world are not comfortable being seen as sexual object, and so male frontal nudity is considered either vulgar or funny across the world, most often than not.

What do you think?